Disputes focused on competition law are an increasing feature of the commercial world. We have long experience of competition disputes, whether in making or defending claims for damages, dealing with competition law defences to intellectual property infringement claims or handling appeals from regulatory decisions.

With both competition law and litigation expertise in the same core team, we are ideally placed to act on competition disputes before both courts and arbitral panels.

Our competition litigation team is truly unusual, being made up of lawyers who have both an in-depth knowledge of competition law across the board and extensive experience of litigation, as well as other types of dispute resolution. That combination sets us apart. It enables us to take a truly integrated approach to cases – strategic and substantive considerations are considered together from the outset.

Our competition team cut its litigation teeth through a succession of ground-breaking cases over the past 25 years where competition law issues have arisen in the context of technology or the enforcement of IP rights.

For more information on the specialist disputes that we continue to handle, see SEP/FRAND disputes.

With the rise in private enforcement of competition law including in arbitration, the team’s long-established expertise means that it is ideally placed to assist clients in such disputes.

Competition damages claims don’t always fit squarely within the confines of a regulatory decision, and we have found ourselves acting on an increasing number of complex ‘hybrid’ claims, often in parallel to appeals from regulatory decisions. Rather than kick a case into the long grass whilst a final regulatory decision is pending, we’ll look for ways to disentangle the various parts and ensure that proceedings are still able to progress. In doing so, we act both for those looking to recover damages and for those defending such claims.

The UK courts are increasingly tackling competition damages claims in manageable ‘chunks’, meaning a number of interim applications will inevitably pave the route to trial. These include jurisdictional disputes, determinations of relevant law, limitation arguments, and the strike-out of key parts of pleadings. We advise on all aspects, from pre-action issues through to settlement or a final hearing – as well as appeals and references to the CJEU, where available. We work with you to navigate the range of strategic options and find the strongest possible position – either as a route to settlement, or to take a case to trial.

Competition disputes are rarely limited to one jurisdiction. We are used to clients taking a multi-jurisdictional approach, and we work collaboratively with the best independent advisors from around the globe. With extensive experience in the life sciences and technology sectors in particular, we know and work with the right economists, accountants and industry experts to assist in clients litigating competition claims in these areas and beyond.

Increasingly, competition claims are also being resolved through arbitration. In sectors such as life sciences and technology, the confidentiality of arbitration as a route to resolving disputes is a major attraction - and that also applies to disputes about anti-competitive conduct or provisions in licences or other commercial agreements. We have considerable experience of alternative dispute resolution, with particular experience of arbitration of competition issues within life sciences disputes.

Key contacts

Stephen Smith

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Sophie Lawrance

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Pat Treacy

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Experience

Successfully represented Google in Streetmap v Google, a standalone damages claim brought by an online mapping company alleging that Google’s use of its maps ‘OneBox’ constituted an abuse of dominance.

Resisted a claim for a mandatory interim injunction based on an alleged abuse of dominance for a client in the life sciences sector – our rapid reaction and strategic planning prevented a costly and distracting application from succeeding.

Advising on private damages claims following public enforcement infringement decisions – including work with experts to value such claims.

Various trips to the Appellate Courts on issues including the scope of Article 102 and its application to licensing; obligations under Article 101 not to use agreements to evade competition law obligations; and on jurisdictional aspects of FRAND disputes.

Advising on several confidential arbitrations of licence agreements in the life sciences sector and on how arbitration could provide a forum for FRAND disputes.

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What others say

“Bristows’ compact competition team has established itself as one of the market leaders in the pharmaceutical sector and for cases involving a crossover between antitrust and intellectual property.”

Global Competition Review 2021

“[The SEPs and FRAND team] has a raft of experience.”

Juve UK 2021

“Team [is] well set up for future cases regarding SEPs and FRAND.”

Juve UK 2021

“UK market leaders.”

Juve UK 2021

“[Bristows’] UK team often coordinates parallel proceedings across the continent. This has proven to be so effective that it has allowed the firm to win instructions away from the London courts.”

Juve UK 2021

Bristows has “one of London’s largest patent litigation practices.”

Juve UK 2021

Bristows has “a great team doing an excellent job.”

Juve UK 2021

Bristows “reputation as a market leader remains as strong as ever.”

Juve UK 2021

“Clients say the team’s ‘advice is always excellent – practical, up to date and considered, delivered in a very personable way’.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

The team are “very responsive and on top of all the technical details, but also strategic with the big picture.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

The team are “very strategic, helping us through every part of the process.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Clients praise the ‘excellent job’ the firm does.”

Chambers and Partners 2021

“Bristows is a prominent player in intellectual property.”

The Times Best Law Firms 2021

“Top-quality litigators specialising in TMT and unparalleled knowledge of patent/competition crossover issues. A great team to work with.”

Legal 500 2021

“They are highly responsive and efficient – all while working within extremely tight deadlines.”

Legal 500 2021

Recent rankings and awards

Competition Litigation - Tier 3

EU and Competition - Tier 4

Technology, Media and Telecoms - Commended

Top Firm for Intellectual Property

Competition Law - Band 5

Competition Law - Band 5

UK Cross-Border Telecoms Patent

Competition Team of the Year